Krish Ranganath: As Technology And Market Evolve, Policy Frameworks Need To Be Updated Accordingly

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In this interview with TECHlife media, Dr Krish Ranganath, the Regional Executive, West Africa for Africa Data Centre spoke extensively on his perspective on Date centre growth, challenges and the numerous opportunities it has offered so far in Nigeria

How will you rate Data Center operations in Nigeria??

As you may be aware, operating in Nigeria presents certain complexities; however, these complexities also present opportunities. Nigeria boasts the largest economy in Africa, with a population of approximately 200 million and seven subsea cable landings, with more expected in the future. Therefore, the size and complexity of this market are significant. If we embrace the challenges of operating in this market and move forward with determination, it can be an excellent location for establishing a data centre. It’s important to acknowledge that Nigeria is an emerging market, and as such, we can expect both positive and negative outcomes. We must navigate this reality while keeping in mind the value chain we create and how we support the local economy.

  1. Security of data is always a major concern in determining the choice of data centres by organisations, how well do you think Nigerian Data Centers have fared in the security of data??

It’s worth noting that there is a widely accepted operational standard for data centres across the globe, which is followed by a majority of operators. While there are various types of data centre operators, including carrier-neutral and cloud-neutral providers, some offer pure colocation services that resemble a real estate model, providing power, space, and cooling. However, when cloud services are offered from a data centre, concerns about data security may arise. It’s important to acknowledge that cloud operators provide a fully secure environment for their clients.

  1. I know that one of the major challenges indigenous companies, including Data Center operators had was government support, both in patronage and policy guidelines, what has changed over the years??

The area of data security remains a developing issue, and the government has implemented policies to address this concern. However, the focus should now be on enforcing the available frameworks and policies. As technology and the market evolve, these frameworks need to be updated accordingly. In Nigeria, I am of the opinion that there needs to be more enforcement, and more individuals need to step up to ensure that this happens.


  1. What has your company been doing to encourage Nigerians, and even Nigerians in diaspora, to domicile their data locally??

NITDA, CBN, and NDPB have emphasized the need for Nigerian critical data to be hosted locally. However, the reality is that we are not yet at a point where this is fully implemented due to the challenges of awareness and trust. Nevertheless, I am optimistic that we will get it right in due course. As an African-owned data centre provider, Africa Data Centres is well aware of the intricacies of the local market. We strive to adhere to the relevant government guidelines to encourage organizations and individuals to have their data hosted locally.

  1. Policy-wise, have you been encouraged by government policies – operational and monetary policies as they relate to data Center operations in Nigeria??

As previously mentioned, there are policies and frameworks in place, but it is crucial to ensure that they are effectively implemented. Data centre operators cannot continue discussing this issue without taking action. It is imperative for all stakeholders, including the government, business houses, individuals, and data centre operators, to engage in constructive dialogue and take action to ensure that these policies are effectively implemented. While I am satisfied with the policies, it is now time to focus on implementation to achieve better results.

  1. What has been your challenges as a company and as an industry??

One of the biggest recent challenges in the industry is the “JAPA” syndrome, and I acknowledge and understand the situation. When faced with such challenges, it is advisable to focus on the basics and work towards fixing the underlying issues, even though it may take time, and there are no quick solutions or easy fixes. It is essential to keep in mind that the grass is not always greener on the other side. A major issue across the industry is the loss of talent or not being able to attract the right people. Therefore, it is crucial to focus on local capacity building to ensure that we are equipped to handle such scenarios properly and in a timely manner.

  1. What measures do you think should be put in place to ensure the continuous growth of indigenous Data Center operations??

It is unrealistic to expect a non-competitive environment, as competition is a natural aspect of any industry. However, I do believe that there is room for better cooperation between operators. This can be achieved through the development of frameworks or associations, which can facilitate collaboration among operators. Additionally, government support can also play a crucial role in fostering better cooperation among data centre operators. 

  1. In terms of evolving technologies, what has your company put in place and how have you leveraged evolving technologies to improve your services??

Indeed, change is an inevitable part of life, and the same applies to the technology industry. To stay ahead of the curve, it is crucial to embrace change and continually upgrade our systems and processes. As a pan-African data centre operator, we understand the importance of being one step ahead in this game. It not only provides us with a competitive edge but also benefits our clients and staff across various locations.

  1. How do you see the future of indigenous Data Center operations in Nigeria??

Considering that Nigeria has 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, a population of over 200 million people, seven subsea cables, more than 25 banks, multiple universities, and numerous government agencies, the potential for data centre growth in the country is enormous. While the focus is currently on Lagos, it is expected that more data centres will emerge in other states in due course. In my personal view, I believe that having at least one data centre per state would be ideal. These centres don’t necessarily have to be tier 4 or have a 5MW capacity, but what is essential is a stable and sustainable model with high availability. To start with, we could aim for 50 to 100 racks per location in all states other than Lagos.

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